Young Adult Fiction and The Imp of the Perverse

When Thomas Nelson publishers, a Christian house, first asked me if I'd be interested in writing young adult fiction, I told them, "I don't preach to anyone. It's obnoxious and makes for bad storytelling." They responded that they didn't want a preacher. They just wanted me to tell great stories from my point of view.

So that's what I do. My stories don't lecture anyone about what sex life to have or what drugs to take or what language to use. I simply tell stories that take place in the world as I understand it and that represent the things I know to be true. We live in a moral universe. That doesn't mean that good guys win and bad guys lose. That doesn't mean that God sends you down, down, down if you do wrong and up, up to happy-land if you're very, very good. It simply means that there's a price you pay for everything — not always in the world of the flesh, but in your spirit where it matters; where it matters whether there's a life beyond this one or not. The price you pay for cruelty, deception and self-degradation is paid in shame and rationalization and a slow strangling of your capacity for both truth and happiness. The rewards can be pleasures of great intensity. They don't last but then, in this life, nothing does. The price for moral integrity is paid in effort of will, a sharp awareness of your own failings, and an occasional denial of those same intense and immediate pleasures. The rewards are a priceless clarity of heart, a heightened ability to love, and a steadily blossoming sense of joy in the fact of life and the gift of life. As the old saying goes: you pays your money and you takes your choice.

To represent a world that works otherwise — a world where treating the human being like a hunk of meat with a chemistry set inside is all good fun — a world where your deepest sense of right and wrong, honor and shame, good and evil are only illusions foisted on you by a finger-wagging society — that's lying to your audience plain and simple. That's giving free rein to the imp of the perverse.

Lying is fine for journalists and academics; it's what they do. But I'm a novelist. You can't make good fiction out of lies.

Again, Nightmare City, is on sale now. I hope you'll give it a try.


Cross-posted at PJ Lifestyle